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Egypt: “virginity test” victim receiving death threats | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Cairo administrative court yesterday ordered an end to the Egyptian military’s practice of conducting forced “virginity tests” on female detainees, ruling this practice as being illegal. The court also ruled that head of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF], Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, should pay the legal expenses of the lawsuit raised by Samira Ibrahim, one of the girls subjected to this practice, after she was arrested demonstrating in Tahrir Square last March.

Dozens of political and human rights activists were present inside and outside of the courthouse, including expected Egyptian presidential candidate Bouthaina Kamel. Head of the Administrative Court, Judge Ali Fekry, announced the ruling, saying “the court obliges the defendant [the military] to end the procedure in question”, to loud applause from Ibrahim’s supporters. Whilst outside of the court, Samira Ibrahim’s supporters chanted “long live justice” and “the women of Egypt are a red line”.

After the verdict, Samira Ibrahim – who is a 25-year old marketing manager – posted a message of thanks on Twitter: “Thank you to the people, thank you to Tahrir Square that taught me to challenge, and thank you to the revolution that taught me perseverance.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Samira Ibrahim, said “I felt proud after the verdict was issued…I was betting on the Egyptian people and their capability to achieve what is right, for in the midst all of these sad events that the revolution and the revolutionaries have faced over the past period, this decision is something joyous and optimists.”

She stressed that this ruling does not just affect her, but all Egyptian women. Ibrahim said “this ruling is to protect Egyptian women in the forthcoming stage from any violation intended by the army.”

Samira Ibrahim also told Asharq Al-Awsat that her virginity remains intact. She said “despite the roughness of the [virginity] test, my virginity remains intact” adding “what happened to me was akin to a violation of my body and a dishonour, in every sense of the word, but the mental anguish and humiliation were far greater than this.”

As for her taking the decision to raise this lawsuit against SCAF alone, despite the fact that 17 other Egyptian women were subject to this same practice, Samira Ibrahim attributed this to “my Sa’idi [Upper Egyptian] background and the courage of my father.”

She said “my family, and my Sa’idi background, taught me to take my rights, whatever the cost, and I did not surrender to despair or to the view of society on this critical issue.”

Following the verdict, Musa Ibrahim told the press “Justice has been served today” adding “these [virginity] tests are a crime and do not comply with the constitution, which states equality between men and women.” She stressed “I will not give up my rights as a women or a human being.”

The judicial ruling called for the immediate halt to the Egyptian military’s practice of subjecting female detainees to virginity testing, saying that this is against the Egyptian constitution, the principles of equality, as well as Egyptian citizens’ rights to be treated in a humane and dignified manner.

However the Egyptian military has since stated that this court order cannot be implemented, as Egyptian military law does not provide for female detainees to be subject to such tests in the first place. The Egyptian military has said that any such testing was carried out by individuals acting on their own volition, and they will face investigation and punishment if found guilty of this.

For his part, Samira Ibrahim’s lawyer, Ahmed Gharab, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his client has received death threats for taking the decision to raise a lawsuit against the Egyptian army. He also expressed his fears that Ibrahim will suffer a fate like that of Khaled Saeed, the Egyptian youth died under suspicious circumstances after being arrested.